Tag Archives: michael cargill

Day 17 – Author I wish people would read more

Not sure how this actually fits with the post - I just like Baby Brains :)

Not sure how this actually fits with the post – I just like Baby Brains 🙂

Just sneaking a post in at the end of the day – this book challenge is like a second job at the moment 🙂

For this topic, I couldn’t pinpoint a single author, but what I really do wish is that more people would give indie authors a chance. I know that there are books out there from indies which haven’t been edited well or are several drafts off being publishable – but you get previews in e-readers now, which give you a pretty good taste of that person’s writing and the story to give you an idea whether it will be for you or not. I still use these previews with traditional authors, to see if I really want to read the book (sorry Fifty Shades I couldn’t even get through the free preview!)

In the last couple of years, since I became an indie author, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and read several great indie authors, writing in a range of fiction genres. Several of them will be appearing in the Indie Author Event we run in May on my other blog, Aside from Writingtoday I thought I would tell you about some of my favourite ones so far:

Amy Martin’s In Your Dreams books are really well written, exciting stories about Zara ‘Zip’ McKee and her blossoming romance with the new boy in school who suffers from narcolepsy. Or is it…? Once the truth about his condition begins to come out, you get a whole other story instead. I’ve just read the second book in the series and need to write my review (maybe once this challenge has ended, if I still have fingers!)

Marie Landry is a lovely author and blogger from Canada, I’ve been lucky enough to feature with her a few times in the past and she’ll be appearing in Indie Month again with us this year. Her romantic tales have been really good, my favourite being Blue Sky Days about a young couple dealing with their relationship around the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Fancy something with a little action?

Tony Talbot’s Eight Mile Island is a fantastic action-mystery, which will have you questioning the narrator as well as your perception of reality in the book. I’m just in the middle of reading Tony’s latest book, Medusa, a futuristic tale, set in a water-filled world – so far, it’s been great!

Jade Varden’s brilliant Deck of Lies series kept me hooked for eighteen months, waiting to find out what was coming next in this contemporary YA murder-mystery. It was as good as any traditionally published series I could pick up! Jade blogs on all things writing on her own blog – if you have an interest in writing you should certainly check out her Writing 101 section. Jade Varden – Blogspot

If you like your action with a little history Michael Cargill’s wartime short story in the Shades of Grey collection is good and I believe a full length follow up in a similar vein is due soon. Hazel B West’s books all have an historical setting, On A Foreign Field follows an English knight into William Wallace’s camp, giving a unique perspective on what might have been there. The research and detail of Hazel’s writing is as good as any historical fiction I’ve read. (My review for Aside from Writing is here).

These are just a few of the indie authors I’ve read, enjoyed and would heartily recommend. A quick glance through my Goodreads book list includes even more still, ranging from children’s books by Sara Zaske and Nicola Palmer, Lynda Meyer’s gritty Letters from the Ledge, Zombie with a brain from Stephen Herfst…vampires with human brothers in Patricia Lynne’s Being Human…Pride and Prejudice retold as US teens in Fall for You by Cecelia Gray.

The list just goes on and on, and I have enjoyed these indie books just as much as I do anything else I’ve come across from traditional publishers. I won’t deny there are indie books I’ve been sent to read that have not been a great standard, but I’ve just chosen not to read them, just like I’ve chosen not to read other books. All I would say is treat every book on it’s own merit – if you’ve never read an indie, find someone you like the look of, check out the free excerpt and if you like it, read it. If you don’t – move on to the next one, there’s lots to choose from 🙂

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at Should Be Reading…it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following three questions…

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?
It’s been a while since I did a WWW Wednesday, so here’s how my reading week looks today 🙂

What are you currently reading?

I’m about a quarter through The Goddess Test and after a promising prologue I have to say, I’m not really loving it. The writing style is fine and the premise of the story was one I’d normally really like (the Persephone myth), but the initial set-up of meeting someone who has the ability to bring back the dead and who shows you this very obviously within the first couple of chapters, isn’t something I’d expect someone to just say “Oh, OK,” to. The lack of reaction and realism in the characters has left me a bit cold, but will see how it goes.

What did you recently finish reading?
I’ve just finished Underneath by Michael Cargill. It’s the third of his I’ve read this year and like his short stories, I really enjoyed the characters and plot. This is a thriller, so a different type of story to the others. You can check out my review on here if you’re interested.
What do you think you’ll read next?
I’ve got a few challenges running this year and vampires, angels and dystopian will all count towards one of those, but I’m not too sure… Perhaps some light reading with a modern telling of Pride and Prejudice? I’m not normallyplea romance girl, but might be a nice change before more blood and death in the other books in my tbr pile!

Just Finished…Underneath by Michael Cargill


Look at the person sitting just across from you. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a loved one, a friend, or a complete stranger.
Now look at their face. Are they happy? Are they sad? Or are they angry? Can you even tell?
How well do you actually know the people closest to you?
Have you ever seen the real person that lies just underneath what you see…?


Sounds creepy? Well, it should because the main character we follow throughout the book – Hugh – is a scary chap!

Underneath is a relatively short book – more a novella I’d say at circa 50k words – and flits between two worlds: Hugh-land and Copsville. Hugh’s world is an interesting one, as you see a lot of his life from his own confused and skewed perspective: one minute he’s happily shopping and buying garlic, the next he’s freaking out at the automated till and then forgotten where he is or why he’s there. His psycholigical switches and memory lapses quickly show the reader that Hugh is not firing on all cylinders, but as the story progresses, very scarily he also seems to be very aware of his own flaws and a-human responses (particularly in his relationship with a certain young lady).

Very early in the book I started to get an American Psycho feel, with a nice British twist – and it certainly gave you this as things developed. One of my favourite things about Michael’s writing is his ability to ‘be real’ – he gets right into the heads of his characters, making their responses and thoughts very realistic – from the mundane to the outright terrifying, he seems to be able to ‘get people’ when he writes about them.

This style continues in the sections of the book revolving around Claire and Robert – ‘Copsville’ for me. The introduction of these other characters is nicely done in a ‘sliding doors’ type moment and there are several more of these tying the plot together as the story progresses. I think Robert is my favourite character in the book: he is the bacon sandwich king! Again he and Claire are very ‘real’ and I believed in their personal motivations, thoughts and actions as they are presented in the story. The banter and interplay between them feels genuine and – even on mundane subjects – the dialogue works well, all centred in the work-world they inhabit.

Overall thoughts: I really like Michael’s writing style; it’s clear, concise, often funny and I enjoy the realisim of his characters. As an extended piece – I’ve previously read his short stories – it works well and follows similar themes and ideas to his previous work. I enjoyed Underneath and it works as a thriller, but have to say I think I prefer something with a slightly more supernatural twist, like Borger the Bunny when Michael’s writing. (See my review for Shades of Grey, also my Michael Cargill here).

TGIF Look Back – 15th June

Welcome to TGIF Look Back it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following questions with some Friday feeling…do one or all, whatever you feel like because it’s Friday 🙂

FUNNY – What made you laugh this week?

READING – What were you reading this week?

INSPIRED – What inspired you this week? 

DONE – What were you mainly doing this week?

ANGEL – Who was your angel/star of the week?

YUCK – What made you go ‘ewwww’ this week?
My TGIF Look Back…

So…what’s been happening this week in my world? Well, I’ve been trying to get through an editing read of an ARC of Underneath by the lovely Michael Cargill – really enjoyed the story and characters, as I have in his other writing, my only struggle was finding the time to get some peace and quiet to read! But have done now, so look out for a review on this in the near future when the book is launched.
I’m very busy at work at the moment and so my main ‘creative time’ comes when I’m driving around listening to music. I’ve built myself a ‘Balik playlist’ to help me stay focused whilst I’m finishingThe Rainbow Maker’s Taleand that seems to be helping – I make lots of random little notes for myself as snippets of dialouge or impressions of scenes come to me.
My other blog – Aside from Writing – is doing well following the Indie Author Event in May: we’re busy scheduling lots of author posts and features for the summer months and two new reviewers – author Tony Talbot and blogger Stephanie Green – have now joined up to regularly provide content, which is working well. If you’ve not met them already, take a look and see what they’re reading! 🙂
That’s about it for me – I’m hoping to grab a few quiet hours for writing this weekend, so wish me luck!
So…how’s your week been?  🙂

Just Finished…Shades of Grey by Michael Cargill

I’ve not read a short story collection for a long while so, as it turns out Shades of Grey, was a perfect choice – because it is fantastic!

I read quite a lot and I have to say that it has been a long time since I found myself so ‘transported’ by a book – to the point that the descriptions and world built in the story feel so alive and real that I feel I could turn my head and actually see what the character is looking at – but that was a regular sensation when I was reading this.

So…what about the stories themselves?

Shades of Grey – Thrust into the tortured mind of an intelligence officer undergoing interrogation the story propels you through this flawed character’s disturbing life and memories in a interesting stream of consciousness style. I liked the erratic jumps through time, which felt right for the character and situation he’s in. The frequent f*%$ language also fitted with the situation. It’s a bit of a roller-coaster ride and reminded me a little of books I’ve read in this genre (Ian Flemming, Robert Ludlum). What is done particularly well is the dissection of the main character’s mind – it felt very realistic and vivid.

There and Back Again – Where Shades of Grey takes you deep inside someone’s mind, There and Back Again takes you into the world of war. Although you again get inside the minds of the main characters, for me it was the landscape and horrors of being a normal human being walking through a world torn apart by war that stood out. The difficulties of trying to get your mind to reconcile the brutality of what you see and do with your rational mind are nicely drawn out and explored in this short story.

Down the Rabbit Hole – I actually think this was my favourite of the three stories – there’s a slightly King-ish vibe to the story: the uneasiness of normal life being pushed slightly out of kilter – and I loved Tom! The depiction of a child’s acceptance of the unusual, the painful and interesting was perfectly delivered and I really wanted to step into this story – aside from the fact it creeped me out! – and put my arm around Tom to keep him safe.

My Overall Thoughts: The writing style is great – I liked the immediacy, the vivid reality created in the minds of the characters we meet in these short stories. Each is quite different in the content of the story and the perspective it’s written from, but at the same time there is a clear voice of the author.

One of the things Michael Cargill does very well is crawl into the ‘heads’ of the characters, places and objects he depicts: whether it’s the convoluted inner workings of a tortured, disturbed intelligence officer; the war-torn landscape of WWII France; or the playtime friend of a lonely little boy; his ability to bring the various aspects of a story to life was spot-on for me and I would heartily recommend this collection to people who like a rollicking good read – you’ll race through the stories and enjoy every minute.


Shades of Grey – along with a whole host of other books – will be in the massive giveaway at Indie Author Month on Aside from Writing taking place in May – so make sure you enter to win!

WWW Wednesday – 5

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at Should Be Reading…it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following three questions…

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?
What are you currently reading?

Little Zombie 🙂

I’ve just started Zed by Stephen Herfst – really good so far…I’m a sucker for zombie films/shows, but this is the first time I’ve read a zombie book. I’m also still plodding along with The Passage by Justin Cronin – but it’s been relegated to my ‘lunchtime’ read and I don’t often get a ‘proper’ lunch so I think it will be a slow burn.
What did you recently finish reading?
I’ve just finished Shade of Grey a series of short stories by Michael Cargill. Although the stories aren’t specifically linked they have a particular flair and style that is recognisable in each. Overall, I loved the set and will definitely be reading more by this author – he draws such fantastic and beliveably real characters that I frequently found myself lost in the worlds he created. There is something particularly immediate about the way he writes and I love the realistic flaws and personality traits each of his characters exhibit – he does a good job of crawling around inside people’s heads.
What do you think you’ll read next?
Next up in my tbr pile is Last Stop This Town by David Steinburg and Fall for You by Cecilia Gray – both are YA books and the authors are featuring in the Indie Author Month in May on my other blog http://asidefromwriting.wordpress.com Take a look at the site and see who’s featuring as there are a whole range of different YA authors covering romance to horror and dystopian to vampires – there are daily freebies and competitions, as well as the chance to meet new authors and books in time for summer!